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"O Waken, Waken, Burd Isbel", Illustration by Arthur Rackham to Young Bekie: Billy Blind waking Burd Isobel.

Billy Blind, Billy Blin, Billy Blynde, Billie Blin, or Belly Blin is an English and Lowland Scottish household spirit, similar to the brownie.

Origin

The character of Billy Blind is probably a reminiscence of the god Woden or Odin from Germanic mythology, and later evolved into Blind Harie, the "blind man of the game" in Scotland.

Role

Billy Blind appears, however, only in ballads, where it frequently advises the characters.

Billy Blind in the Childs Ballads

  • The Child Ballads are a collection of 305 ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants, collected by Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century.
  • In Child Ballad no 5c, Gil Brenton, it is Billy Blind that advises the hero that his bride is not the woman beside him, who is a virgin, but she is hiding in her bower and already pregnant.[11]
  • In Child Ballad no 6, Willie's Lady, Willie's wife has been in labor and can not deliver because Willie's mother, a rank witch, is preventing her. Billy Blind advises Willie to make a wax figure of a baby and invite his mother to the christening. In her rage, the mother demands to know how all her magic was undone, listing all the things she's done, and Willie is able to undo them.[12]
  • In Child Ballad no 53C, Young Bekie, he advises Burd Isobel that Young Bekie is about to marry another bride, and gives her assistance in the magical journey to reach him in time.[13]
  • In Child Ballad no 110, The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter, he appears in many of the variants to reveal the true births of the marrying couple: much higher than was apparent.[14]
  • In modern fantasy, the Billy Blind appears in Peter S. Beagle's Tamsin, where his main characteristic is constantly to give advice.